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Everyone is unique, and just as each path to substance use is different, each journey to safety and recovery is different. There are different services available to address different needs and different stages of the journey.
Help is available, and it comes in many forms. From harm reduction services to long-term treatments like OAT, different things will work for different people. To learn more about mental health and substance use supports, call 8-1-1 or visit Wellbeing.gov.bc.ca.
What is harm
Harm reduction is an approach to the drug crisis that saves lives here and now by making things safer for people who use drugs. Supervised consumption sites, naloxone, and the Lifeguard app are all part of the harm reduction effort, as well as our campaign to stop the stigma.
Harm reduction services
Safe spaces for using drugs
Supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites offer people a safe, clean space to use drugs, where substances can be checked for toxic levels of fentanyl and overdoses can be prevented by trained experts. They can also connect people with other health and wellness supports, including treatment options.
There are supervised consumption sites in communities across the province. Many also offer other services, including naloxone kits and safe injection supplies. To find a site near you, visit Toward the Heart.
Toxic drugs are circulating in B.C., and they can show up anywhere. It’s very hard to know what you’re taking, or how concentrated it is. Now it’s possible to find out by using a drug checking service. All supervised consumption sites offer drug checking, and other organizations may too.
An app that saves lives
The Lifeguard app can help keep you safer when you’re using drugs, together or alone. It can call emergency services for you and report your location if you are unresponsive after a certain amount of time. Download it from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
Naloxone is a medication that can reverse opioid overdoses temporarily. You can get a naloxone kit to carry with you if you need one—visit Toward the Heart to find out more.
Culturally safe support
The First Nations Health Authority offers culturally safe harm reduction and treatment services for Indigenous people who use drugs. Visit their website to learn more.
Support for young people
Foundry offers mental health and substance use services to young people (ages 12 to 24) in a non-judgmental, supportive environment across B.C. To find the right service for you, visit their website.
What is treatment
Treatment and recovery mean different things to different people. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone has their own needs and goals, and different approaches may work better for different people at different times. Remember that recovery isn’t a cure—it’s something people maintain every day.
If someone wants to change their relationship with substances or the way that they use them, there are services available to help that can meet them where they’re at in their recovery journey.
These services are usually structured, intensive programs led by experts, including clinical and medical support as well as peer support and educational programs. They often have a shorter duration of 30 to 60 days.
These services offer a less structured, more communal environment, where people receive support from peers and professionals. They may be longer, less intensive programs.
Opioid Agonist Therapy (OAT)
Opioid agonist therapy (OAT) is a safe and effective medication-based treatment to help people who are addicted to opioids. OAT is usually prescribed by a doctor and provided through pharmacies or treatment programs. Learn more below.
This treatment is one way people with opioid use disorder can find stability, work towards recovery, or manage their opioid use long-term. It reduces the possibility of people overdosing or dying from opioid use and can improve the health and well-being of people living with opioid use disorder and their families.
Opioid Agonist Therapy (OAT) is a medical treatment for people who are addicted to opioids. In OAT, medical professionals provide safe, slow-acting opioid medication to reduce the symptoms of opioid use disorder. Commonly used medications include methadone and buprenorphine.
OAT isn’t for everyone—different people have different journeys of healing and recovery. If you are experiencing opioid use disorder, a doctor can help you decide what treatment is right for you and provide an OAT referral if appropriate.